Barnabas established the church in Antioch in the truths of God’s grace.
It was a
group of people, both Jew and Gentile, that was enjoying the wall of hostility
between the Jews and Gentiles being demolished through the death of Jesus along
with the commandments and regulations being abolished (Ephesians 2:14-16), thus
creating peace between Jew and Gentile and placing them into one new family
called the church (Ephesians 3:1-10).
The wall of
hostility was the Law of Moses.
One of the
purposes of the law was to keep the Jewish people focused on the One True God -
Yahweh - by keeping them separate from the Gentile nations.
As we have discovered, the Galatian people at one time fully and joyfully embraced grace and where thankful to Paul for teaching them about grace.
It filled them with joy to know that righteousness (being clean and pure before God, declared innocent of breaking the Ten Commandments, thus enabling them to have eternal life in God’s kingdom) was by grace through faith in Jesus.
Yet, when certain men came to Galatia from Jerusalem, they convinced the Galatian people that righteousness was not given by God as a free gift but must be earned by following the Law of Moses.
In trying to convince the Galatian people that righteousness comes by grace through faith in Jesus and not by following the Law of Moses, Paul needed to establish his credibility so the people would believe what he was teaching.
To do this, he shared some of his personal testimony about his journey from law to grace, from Judaism to Jesus.
Paul was raised in Judaism which are the demands, duties, diets, and days of the Law of Moses.
Paul’s father was a Pharisee.
A Pharisee’s life was dedicated to strictly observing all 600 plus laws and rituals of Judaism so he could become righteous before God and enter into the kingdom of God.
Paul was under much pressure to reverse his message of grace so he would not be rejected by the people of Galatia and the religious leaders who came from Jerusalem preaching a different message.
Before those from Jerusalem came to Galatia, preaching that righteousness came by following the Law of Moses, the people of Galatia loved Paul and joyfully welcomed him into their community as if Paul was an angel of God or Christ Jesus himself (Galatians 4:13-14).
They took care of him as he suffered with an eye illness.
In Galatians, we see Paul passionately standing up for the gospel of grace as he boldly confronted the false teachers who opposed the fullness of the gospel of grace and who taught obedience to the law was required for righteousness.
Concerning these false teachers, Paul emphatically states:
“If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you embraced, let him be under a curse!” (Galatians 1:9)
However in 2 Timothy, Paul gave Timothy the following instructions about responding to those who have a partial knowledge of the truth about Jesus but who oppose the full teaching of the gospel of grace (all that God has done for us in Christ to fully reconcile us to himself, forgive us for all our sins, and to freely provide righteousness for us as a gift, which we receive by faith in Jesus).
Paul clearly shared the good news of grace (gospel) with the Galatian people.
When they heard the good news, they embraced it.
This good news was righteousness (eternally clean, pure, innocent of sin, right with and accepted by God) came by grace (Jesus completely taking our unrighteousness at the cross) through faith (freely receiving the righteousness of Jesus).
Yet false teachers infiltrated the grace churches in Galatia, corrupting the good news of grace by convincing the people that righteousness was not of grace, nor was it received by faith in Jesus, but rather it was earned by following the days, diets, duties, and demands of the law of Moses (morality and religious activity).
Religious leaders, claiming to know and understand how a person becomes righteous (forgiven, clean, pure, and accepted by God), infiltrated the Galatian churches to undo what Paul taught about how a person becomes righteous.
They taught righteousness was through faith in Jesus plus following the days, diets, duties, and demands of the law of Moses (a moral and religious system).
Paul taught righteousness was by grace (what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins) through faith in Jesus, apart from any works.
Paul established churches in Galatia based upon grace - everything God has done to make us righteous through Jesus, leaving us nothing to do but to place our faith in Jesus alone for righteousness.
The Galatian people, after hearing the good news from Paul that righteousness (innocent of sin) comes by faith in Jesus and not by the law, quickly deserted the good news of grace and turned to a completely different gospel, or message about how a person becomes righteous.
The false gospel they were turning to was a gospel of works based upon obedience to the law of Moses (a moral and religious system).
After identifying himself as the writer of the letter to the Galatians,
Paul describes himself as an apostle.
In the Greek language, the word apostle means one who is sent on a mission with a message.
Paul emphatically writes that no group of men or a man sent him, but it was Jesus Christ and God the Father who sent him.
Paul’s message was given to him directly from Jesus (Acts 20:24; Galatians 1:11; Ephesians 3:2-4).
What was the message Jesus gave him?
The message given to him by Jesus was the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24).
Paul, in Galatians 1:1, identifies himself as the writer of the letter to the Galatians.
Before coming to faith in Jesus, Paul was a Pharisee.
His dad was a Pharisee.
As a Pharisee, Paul was wholeheartedly committed to obeying the law of Moses, believing that if he obeyed, he would become righteous (clean and pure before God, completely accepted by God).
That is until he met Jesus, and grace was poured out abundantly upon Paul.
This outpouring of grace transformed Paul’s life.
With this encounter with Jesus and experience of grace, Paul learned that righteousness does not come by following the law of Moses but comes only by grace through faith in Jesus.